RPAs and non-international conflict : a strategic/legal assessment
Michael P. Kreuzer
Host item entries:
Cardozo law review, Vol. 36, issue 2, December 2014, p. 667-707
Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs) have, in recent years, been among the most controversial weapons systems in the U.S. war on terrorism. Debate rages over their overall effectiveness, their legality outside of recognized war zones, such as Afghanistan, and the precedent U.S. RPAs might set for other state and non-state actors in the future. Rather than focusing on the technology of the RPA platform itself, this Article argues that the RPA enables a type of war against individuals that exposes a significant hole in both international law and conventional understanding of the boundaries of warfare. Rather than focusing on treaties to limit the use of RPAs, the first focus should be in addressing what constitutes war with non-state actors, what its boundaries are, and how such wars begin and end. Defining the parameters for a "just war" against a non-state actor will serve to clarify many of the legal debates surrounding discrimination and proportionality in strikes. Additionally, it will likely increase the effectiveness of the strikes themselves by allowing greater transparency of operations which will enable those employing the RPAs to better exploit the potential strategic effects of the operation.